Isotopes definition is that the isotopes are atoms of the same element with the same atomic number but different mass numbers, i.e, have the same number of protons and electrons but differ in the number of neutrons.
Isotopes characteristics in chemistry
Since they correspond to the same element, the isotopes have the same chemical properties , which are defined by the atomic number, but have different physical properties , which depend on the mass number, as is the case with density.
Isotopes also have different nuclear properties , with some radioisotopes, that is, atoms that have the same chemical properties as isotopes that are not radioactive, but with the difference that they emit radiation from their nucleus.
For example, carbon has three natural isotopes, which are …:
- 6C12 (carbon-12): 98.89% (abundance in nature) – has six protons and six neutrons in the nucleus.
- 6C13 (carbon-13): 1.01 to 1.14% (abundance in nature) – has six protons and seven neutrons in the nucleus.
- 6C14 (carbon-14): it has six protons and eight neutrons in the nucleus.
Note that the name of the isotopes is usually written as follows: element name + mass number.
The only isotopes that have proper names are hydrogen isotopes, which are:
- 1H1 : protium (has 1 proton and has no neutrons – 99.985%)
- 1H2: deuterium (has 1 proton and 1 neutron – 0.015%);
- 1H3: tritium (has 1 proton and 2 neutrons).
Importance of isotopes in chemistry
Isotopes are of great importance in our lives even if we don’t realize it.
They are very useful in industry, medicine and other areas.
The carbon element has several isotopes, but the main ones are carbon 11 , carbon 12 and carbon 14 .
The carbon isotope 12 has been adopted as a reference for the standard unit of atomic mass,
The carbon isotope 14 is used in radiometric dating, which is a process that aims to help reconstruct the sequence of prehistoric and historical events and determine the age of fossils and archaeological remains.
Finally, the carbon 11 isotope is radioactive, with positron emission used in the PET test in nuclear medicine.
The krypton element has an isotope, Kr81, which is used in medicine and also for cardiac examinations and in the study of the lungs through nuclear medicine.
Other isotopes are also very important in different areas such as medicine, industry and especially the nuclear industry.
The isotope I-131 is used to evaluate, for example, the activity of the thyroid gland , where the isotope accumulates.
The P-32 isotope is used to identify malignant tumors , since cancer cells tend to accumulate more phosphates than normal cells.
Radioactive isotopes such as Co60 and Cs-137 are used in the treatment of cancer to minimize damage to neighboring cells to tumors.
Cesium has several isotopes and is particularly useful in nuclear medicine.
The Cs-133 isotope is used in the construction of atomic clocks, which serve as a reference for determining the time unit of the International System of Units;
The Cs-134 isotope was used in hydrology as a measure to determine cesium production in nuclear energy industries.
This cesium isotope is used for this purpose because, although it is less common than Cs-133 or Cs-137, it is produced only by nuclear reactions.
The Am-241 isotope is used in some types of fire detectors and as a source of gamma rays and neutrons that can be used in radiographs.
These are some of the isotopes that “help” us daily.
Although some are highly dangerous in their natural form when used correctly, they can even save lives, because the difference between poison and cure is the amount
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